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Google Ads
, Google’s powerful advertising platform, is nowadays essential for the success strategy of online stores. Whether you’re a small startup or an established e-commerce business, Google Ads offers numerous ways to promote your products, reach new customers, and increase sales.

But despite Google Ads’ impressive capabilities, it can be intimidating for newcomers to master this complex tool. This Google Ads guide was created specifically for online stores to change just that. We will show you how to take full advantage of Google Ads and successfully use it to drive your e-commerce business forward.

With this guide, you’ll learn everything from the basics of setting up a Google Ads campaign to advanced techniques for optimizing your ads and increasing your conversion rate. We also cover the most common mistakes companies make and how you can avoid them.

Ready to leave the competition behind? Then dive into this comprehensive Google Ads guide and discover how to take your online store performance to the next level!

Consumers are always and everywhere open to shopping

The anticipation of Christmas doesn’t just start in December. In fact, there is no longer a fixed start time for the shopping season. Consumers are constantly and everywhere ready to be inspired. According to our data at UnitedAds, 21 percent of German consumers start thinking about potential Christmas gifts as early as August.1

Meanwhile, traditional shopping days such as Black Friday retain their significance. In 2021, 65 percent of shoppers said that Black Friday was relevant for their Christmas shopping. In 2022, this figure rose to 69 percent. Even after Christmas, many people are still looking for the best deals.

The introduction to the holiday season is becoming increasingly seamless. Many customers start their search for the perfect gift or personal supplies for the festive season on several platforms at the same time. This presents retailers with the challenge of being present at the right time. Younger Gen Z shoppers and millennials in particular are constantly open to new brands and products, regardless of targeted shopping trips.

This means that brands and retailers can influence which gifts are ultimately selected throughout the year. But what does this mean for online marketing during the Christmas season?

  • Our tip with UnitedAds

    Retailers should aim to meet demand where it arises, and as cost-effectively as possible. The right timing, the right channel and the right message often used to involve considerable manual effort. Thanks to advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, this effort can be minimized.

    With the Google AI tools Performance Max and Smart Bidding, campaigns can be created AI-based, individually and flexibly across different channels for the relevant target groups. Depending on the business objective (tROAS or tCPA), the campaign is optimized within these tools with the help of AI. One key to success here is data quality: the more precise the data, the more effective Google AI can make targeted delivery.

What are Google Ads and Google Shopping?

Google Ads, formerly known as Google AdWords, is Google’s online advertising platform where advertisers can place ads to promote their products or services. These ads can appear in Google search results, on other websites and in mobile apps. There are different types of ad formats, including text ads, display ads, video ads and more.

Google Shopping, on the other hand, is a specific service within Google Ads that enables online retailers to advertise their products directly in Google search results. Instead of writing an ad text, merchants upload a product feed to the Google Merchant Center and these products are then displayed in the search results as Shopping ads. These ads usually contain a picture of the product, the price and the name of the store.

Importance of Google Shopping for online stores

Google Shopping has become immensely important for online stores. Here are some reasons:

  1. Visibility: Google is the most used search engine worldwide. Google Shopping allows products to be presented directly in the search results, which significantly increases the visibility and reach of online stores.
  2. Targeted advertising: Since Shopping ads are triggered based on users’ search queries, they reach an audience that already has a clear interest in buying. This can lead to higher conversion rates.
  3. Competitiveness: Many large and small retailers use Google Shopping. Without a presence in this service, online stores could lose potential customers to their competitors.
  4. Visual presentation: In contrast to purely text-based ads, Shopping ads offer a visual component. An appealing product image can often say more than words and encourage the user to click.
  5. Easy integration: The Google Merchant Center makes it relatively easy to upload and manage a product feed, making it easier to get started with Google Shopping.

Google Shopping campaigns

Basics and advantages of shopping campaigns

Google Shopping campaigns are special ad campaigns within Google Ads that allow advertisers to promote their products directly in Google search results and on the Google Shopping page. In contrast to conventional text ads, Shopping ads are based on a product feed that retailers provide in the Google Merchant Center.

Advantages of shopping campaigns:

  • Higher visibility: Products are displayed directly in the search results with image, price and retailer name.
  • Targeted reach: Ads are triggered based on users’ search queries, resulting in more relevant clicks.
  • Better conversion rates: Direct product presentation enables users to make purchase decisions more quickly.
  • Simple administration: Merchants can easily update and optimize their product feed via the Merchant Center.

Creation and structuring of shopping campaigns

To create a Shopping campaign, advertisers must first ensure that they have an active Google Merchant Center account with a valid and optimized product feed.

Steps for creating a shopping campaign:

  1. Google Ads account: Sign in to Google Ads and click on “New campaign”.
  2. Select campaign type: Select “Shopping” and link your Merchant Center account.
  3. Define the objective: For example, “Increase sales” or “Attract new website visitors”.
  4. Geographical and linguistic focus: Determine in which regions and in which language your ads should be placed.
  5. Define bidding strategy and budget.
  6. Create ad groups: Segment your products according to categories, brands or other criteria.
  7. Product groups: Within the ad groups, you can further subdivide your products into product groups.

Bidding strategies and budget planning

The bidding strategy determines how you pay for clicks on your Shopping ads. There are various strategies:

  • Manual CPC bid: You set the maximum cost per click (CPC) for your ads.
  • Automated bidding: Google Ads automatically adjusts your bids to achieve as many clicks or conversions as possible.

The budget determines the maximum amount you want to spend on your campaign each day. It is important to set a budget that fits your business goals and regularly review the performance of your campaign to make adjustments if necessary.

Introduction to the Google Merchant Center

The Google Merchant Center is a tool that allows merchants to submit their store and product information to Google and make it available for Google Shopping, Google Ads and other Google services. It serves as a bridge between your online store and Google Shopping and enables you to reach millions of new customers.

Setup and linking with Google Ads

  1. Account creation: Visit the Google Merchant Center website and sign in with your Google account. If you don’t have an account yet, you can create one.
  2. Business information: Enter the details of your business, including the name, address and website.
  3. Linking with Google Ads: Under the menu item “Linked accounts” you can link your Merchant Center with your Google Ads account. This allows you to create shopping campaigns and use your product information in your ads.
  4. Confirming and claiming your website: To ensure that you are the owner of the website you want to add, you must confirm and claim it.

Product feed creation and optimization

The product feed is a list of your products and their attributes that Google uses to generate your Shopping ads.

  1. Feed creation: In the Merchant Center, you can create a new feed under the menu item “Products” and then “Feeds”. You can choose different formats, e.g. Google Sheets, a CSV file or a direct API integration.
  2. Product information: Make sure you add all the required information such as ID, title, description, link, image link, price and availability.
  3. Optimization:
    • Titles: Use clear and precise titles that contain relevant keywords.
    • High quality images: Make sure your product images are clear, high-resolution and representative of the product.
    • Detailed descriptions: Provide accurate and helpful descriptions that inform potential buyers.
    • Timeliness: Keep your feed regularly updated, especially in terms of price and availability.

By properly setting up and optimizing the Google Merchant Center and product feed, merchants can increase their visibility in Google Shopping and run more effective ad campaigns. It is important to make regular checks and adjustments to ensure that product information is up to date and relevant.

Google search ads for online stores

Difference between shopping and search ads

  • Shopping ads: These ads are created via the Google Merchant Center and show specific products from your online store. They usually contain a product image, the price, the name of the store and sometimes also reviews. They appear in Google search results when users search for specific products and redirect users directly to the product page in the online store.
  • Search ads: These are the traditional text ads that appear in Google search results. They are based on keywords and consist of a headline, description and URL. They do not provide visual product information like Shopping ads, but can be optimized for a wide range of search queries, not just product queries.

Keyword research and selection

  • Research tools: Use tools such as the Google Keyword Planner to find out which terms your potential customers are using.
  • Relevance: Choose keywords that are relevant to your products and services.
  • Search volume and competition: Consider the monthly search volume and competition for each keyword. Sometimes less competitive but still relevant keywords (long-tail keywords) can be more effective.

Creation of effective ad texts and extensions

  • Clear message: Make sure your ad has a clear and concise message that encourages the user to click.
  • Call-to-action (CTA): Add a strong CTA, e.g. “Buy now”, “Learn more” or “Secure offer”.
  • Ad extensions: Use extensions to add additional information such as location, phone number or additional links. This can increase the visibility and click rate of your ad.

Bidding strategies for search ads

  • Manual bid: You set the maximum bid for each keyword. This gives you full control, but also requires regular monitoring and adjustment.
  • Automated bidding: Google Ads automatically adjusts your bids to achieve specific goals such as maximum clicks, target CPA or target ROAS.
  • Bid adjustments: You can adjust bids based on devices, locations or time of day to optimize performance.

Optimization of Google Shopping ads

Google Shopping Ads are a decisive means of addressing potential customers directly and persuading them to buy. A well-optimized product display can make the difference between a click and a scroll past.

Here are the most important tips for optimization:

Important elements of an effective display

  1. High quality images: A clear, high-resolution product image that shows the product from the best angle is essential. It should be set against a neutral background and illuminate the product well.
  2. Meaningful title: The title should precisely describe the product and contain relevant keywords that potential buyers might search for.
  3. Detailed product description: The description should contain all important information about the product and at the same time be short and concise.
  4. Availability and delivery information: Especially for time-critical purchases, information on product availability and delivery times can make all the difference.

Use of quality factors and ad rank

  1. Relevance: Make sure that your ad and your product feed are relevant to the search query. This influences the quality factor and thus the ad rank.
  2. Bid: Your bid influences how often your ad is shown. A higher bid may result in a higher ad rank, but it’s important to consider the bid in relation to the potential ROI.
  3. Landing page experience: A user-friendly, mobile-optimized landing page that leads the user directly to the advertised product can improve the quality factor.

Pricing, special offers and call-to-action

  1. Competitive pricing: Check your competitors’ prices regularly and make sure that your prices are competitive.
  2. Special offers: Discounts, special sales or free extras can make your ad more attractive and increase the click-through rate.
  3. Clear call-to-action (CTA): A clear CTA such as “Buy now”, “Find out more” or “Save offer” can encourage the user to click and complete the purchase.

Google CSS (Comparison Shopping Services) Program

The Google CSS (Comparison Shopping Services) program was introduced by Google to promote greater choice and competition in the online marketplace. It enables various price comparison services to present their product lists in the Google Shopping results. Online stores can choose to work with one of these services to advertise their products in Google Shopping instead of directly through Google.

Advantages of CSS for online stores

  1. Cost efficiency: Some CSS providers may offer lower click prices than Google Shopping.
  2. Extended reach: By working with various CSS providers, online stores can advertise their products on multiple platforms.
  3. Specialized services: Some CSS providers offer specialized services or tools that are optimized for specific industries or markets.

Steps to participation and best practices

  1. Research: Investigate different CSS providers to find out which one best suits your business.
  2. Registration: Log in to the selected CSS provider and follow the setup instructions.
  3. Product feed integration: Make sure that your product feed meets the requirements of the CSS provider and is updated regularly.
  4. Budget and bids: Determine your advertising budget and decide on a bidding strategy.
  5. Performance monitoring: Monitor the performance of your ads regularly and make adjustments if necessary.

Best Practices:

  • Optimized product feed: A high-quality, up-to-date product feed is crucial for the success of your ads.
  • Clear communication: Keep in regular contact with your CSS provider to ensure you are aware of all changes and updates.
  • Test and customize: Experiment with different ad formats, bidding strategies and product categories to find out what works best.

The Google CSS program gives online stores an additional opportunity to advertise their products and potentially save costs. However, it is important to choose the right CSS provider and monitor performance regularly to achieve the best possible ROI.

Advanced shopping and search ad functions

Local inventory displays

Local inventory ads allow retailers to display the availability of their products in nearby physical stores directly in Google Shopping results. When users click on the ad, they are redirected to a Google-hosted page of the retailer where they can find more information about the product, store location and opening hours.

Advantages:

  1. Increase in physical store traffic.
  2. Opportunity to target local customers.
  3. Increased visibility for local stocks.

Showcase Shopping ads

Showcase Shopping ads are an enhanced form of Google Shopping ads that allow merchants to present a group of related products together in a single ad. When users click on the ad, an expanded view opens with a selection of the retailer’s products.

Advantages:

  1. Ideal for more general search queries where the user may want to explore different options.
  2. Offers retailers the opportunity to present their brand and product diversity.
  3. Increased engagement rates through interactive ad elements.

Advanced ad extensions for search ads

Ad extensions supplement your search ads with additional information or call campaigns. The advanced extensions include:

  • Location extensions: Display your business location and phone number.
  • Call extensions: Add a phone number or call button.
  • Price extensions: Display a list of products or services with prices.
  • App extensions: Add a link to download your mobile app.

Automated bidding strategies

Automated bidding uses machine learning to optimize bids in real time and achieve the best results for your ad campaigns. Some of the advanced bidding strategies are:

  • Target CPA (cost per acquisition): Sets bids to get as many conversions as possible at the target CPA.
  • Target ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend): Adjusts bids to achieve the desired ROAS.
  • Maximum clicks: Automated bidding to achieve as many clicks as possible within your budget.
  • Bid strategy for search impression share: Sets bids to place your ads in a specific position or percentage of the top search results.

By using these advanced features, online retailers can further optimize their ad campaigns to achieve better results and a higher ROI. However, it is important to test and adjust regularly to ensure that the chosen strategies are effective.

Measurement and analysis of Google Ads for online stores

Analyzing and measuring the performance of your ad campaigns is crucial to evaluate success and identify optimization opportunities.

Key figures

  1. CTR (click-through rate): This is the ratio of users who click on an ad to the total number of users who have seen the ad. A high CTR indicates that your ad is relevant and appealing to users.
  2. CPC (cost-per-click): This is the amount you pay each time someone clicks on your ad. A low CPC may indicate that you are advertising efficiently, while a high CPC may give you cause to review your keywords or ad copy.
  3. ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend): This is the ratio of the revenue generated by the ad campaign to the cost of the ad campaign. A ROAS of over 1 means that you are generating more sales than costs, which is ideal.

Use of the Merchant Center and Google Ads Dashboard

  1. Product feed health monitoring: In the Merchant Center, you can check the status of your product feed and ensure that there are no errors or warnings.
  2. Performance reports: In both the Merchant Center and the Google Ads Dashboard, you can access detailed reports on the performance of your ads, including impressions, clicks, costs and conversions.
  3. Optimization suggestions: Google Ads offers suggestions for optimizing your campaigns based on machine learning and your campaign data.

Integration with Google Analytics

  1. Linking accounts: By linking your Google Ads account with Google Analytics, you can get detailed information about what users do after clicking on your ads.
  2. Target intent and e-commerce tracking: Make sure you have target intent and e-commerce tracking set up in Google Analytics to accurately measure conversions and sales generated by your ads.
  3. Segmentation and target groups: Use Google Analytics to create detailed segments and target groups that you can then use in Google Ads for targeted advertising campaigns.

By regularly analyzing and measuring your ad campaigns, you can ensure that you are using your budget efficiently and achieving the best possible results.

It is important not just to focus on a single key figure, but to look at the overall picture and make continuous adjustments and optimizations.

Social shopping influences purchasing decisions – digitally and in-store

Following the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, there is renewed interest in shopping in bricks-and-mortar stores. However, in contrast to the times before the restrictions, consumers now move more flexibly between online and offline shopping options: They often look online for information on prices, special offers or product features to assess whether it is worth going to the store. 42 percent check online in advance whether an item is in stock in the store before they set off. For younger age groups in particular, such as millennials and Gen Z, it is desirable for retailers to be more transparent about the availability of their products online.

However, not only the choice of store, but also the product selection itself is influenced by digital channels. Platforms such as Google, YouTube and Google Maps are important for Gen Z.

YouTube is particularly popular for Gen Z when searching for products. This shows that video content is having a growing influence on young people’s purchasing decisions. Consumers search online for video consultations, especially for more expensive purchases. Brands and retailers should take advantage of this potential during the Christmas season and score points with authentic videos.

  • Our tip with UnitedAds

    If you want to boost sales with video content, you should opt for formats that are aimed at conversions. One option is the AI-supported YouTube campaign format “Video Action Campaign”, which encourages viewers to take action such as buying a product. Thanks to Google AI, the campaigns are delivered with the optimal combination of ads for the target groups most willing to buy, which increases the conversion rate and thus marketing efficiency.

How online stores save CPC on Google Shopping s

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